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Robert Downey Jr says he has no regrets about playing controversial blackface in Tropic Thunder  

Robert Downey Jr has reflected on his blackface role in Ben Stiller’s 2008 comedy movie Tropic Thunder.

The actor was asked about the heavily criticised role during an interview on The Joe Rogan Experience, insisting that he has no regrets about the part, for which he is was nominated for multiple awards including an Oscar.

Robert plays Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder, a character that sparked controversy by having a ‘pigmentation alteration’ procedure as he prepared to play a black character.

Criticism: Robert Downey Jr has reflected on his blackface role in Ben Stiller’s 2008 comedy movie Tropic Thunder, insisting he has no regrets about accepting the role (pictured with Stiller in the film)

When Rogan asked Robert is if he would accept the Tropic Thunder part today, Robert said: 

‘When Ben called and said ‘hey I’m doing this thing,’ I think Sean Penn had passed on it or something like that—possibly wisely.’

‘And I thought, ‘Yeah… I’ll do that after Iron Man.’ And then I started thinking, ‘This is a terrible idea; wait a minute.” 

‘Then I thought, ‘Well, hold on, dude, get real here, where is your heart?’ And my heart is, a), I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me. The other thing is, I get to hold up to nature the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they’re allowed to do on occasion—just my opinion.’

Looking back: When asked in an interview if he would accept the Tropic Thunder part today, Robert said: 'I thought, 'Yeah… I'll do that after Iron Man.' And then I started thinking, 'This is a terrible idea; wait a minute'''

Looking back: When asked in an interview if he would accept the Tropic Thunder part today, Robert said: ‘I thought, ‘Yeah… I’ll do that after Iron Man.’ And then I started thinking, ‘This is a terrible idea; wait a minute”’

‘And also Ben, who is a master artist and director, probably the closest thing to Charlie Chaplin that I’ve experienced… he knew exactly what the vision for this was; he executed it.’  

‘It was impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie, and 90 percent of my black friends are like, ‘Dude, that was great.”’

‘What about the other 10 percent?’ Rogan asked.

‘You know, I can’t disagree with them—but I know where my heart was,’ Downey said. 

‘And I think that it’s never an excuse to do something that is out of place and not of its time, but to me it was just putting a, it was a blasting cap on—and by the way, I think White Chicks came out pretty soon after that, and I was like, ‘I love that! That was great!”

Hit film: The actor continued: 'Then I thought, 'Well, hold on, dude, where is your heart?' And my heart is I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there's something in it for me

 Hit film: The actor continued: ‘Then I thought, ‘Well, hold on, dude, where is your heart?’ And my heart is I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me

When host Rogan offered that you couldn’t do blackface today, the actor responded: 

‘It’s an interesting and necessary meditation on, ‘Where is the pendulum?’ Downey offered at one point. “Why is the pendulum right? Where is the pendulum maybe cutting a little into what could be perceived as heart in the right place openness of its time?”‘

‘But again, I mean, you know, there’s a morality clause here on this planet. And it’s a big price to pay, and I think having a moral psychology is job one. So sometimes you’ve just gotta go, “Yeah, I effed up.” Again, not in my defense, but Tropic Thunder was about how wrong that is. So I take exception.’

Rogan asked if anyone on Robert’s team or an family or friends had tried to talk him out of it. He admitted ‘my mother was horrified. “Bobby, I’m telling ya, I have a bad feeling about this.” I was like, “Yeah me too, mom.”‘ 

Starring role: Robert plays Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder, a character that sparked controversy by having a 'pigmentation alteration' procedure as he prepared to play a black character

Starring role: Robert plays Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder, a character that sparked controversy by having a ‘pigmentation alteration’ procedure as he prepared to play a black character

At the time the actor received critical acclaim for his performance and was nominated in the Supporting Actor category at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Heath Ledger won all of those for his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight.    

Tropic Thunder also attracted criticism upon its release from the the disability advocacy community over the character Simple Jack. 

The film shows Stiller’s character Tugg Speedman attempting to revive his career after starring in a movie called Simple Jack, about a mentally-challenged farm boy.

A coalition of more than 20 disability advocacy groups objected to Tropic Thunder’s repeated use of the word ‘retard’ with groups picketing screenings of the film. 

Stiller defended the film, stating at the time: ‘We screened the movie so many times and this didn’t come up until very late … in the context of the film I think it’s really clear, they were making fun of the actors and actors who try to use serious subjects to win awards.’

Co-writer Etan Cohen also stated: ‘Some people have taken this as making fun of handicapped people, but we’re really trying to make fun of the actors who use this material as fodder for acclaim.’

Nominations: At the time the actor received critical acclaim for his performance and was nominated in the Supporting Actor category at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards

Nominations: At the time the actor received critical acclaim for his performance and was nominated in the Supporting Actor category at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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